Sens. Cruz and Rosen Bill Will Unleash American Satellite Industry

March 21, 2024

Bipartisan legislation would give regulatory predictability to satellite industry, boost broadband access, combat China

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) today introduced the Satellite and Telecommunications Streamlining Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that aims to update the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) application process to remove regulatory barriers that could threaten investments in the United States commercial satellite industry.

The legislation seeks to address the rapid increase in both the quantity and complexity of applications submitted to the FCC. It establishes deadlines for the FCC to process and approve licensing applications, which will enhance predictability and transparency for the satellite industry. This is critical for expanding broadband access to underserved areas of the country and ensuring the United States remains competitive amid China’s rapidly evolving satellite industry landscape.

Upon introduction, Sen. Cruz said:

“In the rapidly changing space and satellite marketplace, more rocket launches and satellites are being deployed than ever before. Sadly, innovative companies that seek to expand broadband access to Americans face a regulatory process that is outdated leading to massive delays as they seek to deploy new satellite technologies. I am glad to be joined by Sen. Rosen in introducing this important legislation to ensure the FCC’s burdensome administrative processes don’t hold up commercial satellite applications that could help unserved communities connect to the internet.”

Sen. Rosen added:

“Satellite technology is a critical component for connecting rural communities to high-speed internet, but bureaucratic roadblocks have hindered companies from innovating and advancing satellite technology. I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to cut red tape and make it easier for satellite companies to deliver faster internet connectivity, weather forecasting, and disaster response to benefit Nevadans.”

The Satellite and Telecommunications Streamlining Act would: 

  • Require the FCC to create rules to streamline procedures for granting initial licenses, renewals, and modifications for both geostationary satellite orbits (GSOs) and non-geostationary satellite orbits (NGSOs); 
  • Establish a 1-year shot clock for the FCC to grant or deny license applications for GSOs and NGSOs; 
  • Establish a 1-year shot clock for the FCC to grant or deny earth station license applications; 
  • Establish a 180-day shot clock for the FCC to grant or deny a renewal of (1) GSO and NGSO licenses, (2) grants of market access, or (3) earth stations; 
  • Allow the FCC to authorize emergency licenses for 180 days if needed for national security or defense purposes; 
  • Establish a 30-day shot clock for the FCC to put an application out for public notice or notify the applicant if their application is incomplete; and, 
  • Require the FCC to update its rules for interference protection and spectrum sharing every two years. 

Read the full text of this legislation HERE.

This bill is a companion to H.R. 1338, led by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.). However, the Senate version includes some changes regarding orbital debris, spectrum sharing, and technical edits.